France Wants Greek Air Defense Systems to Guard Paris Olympic Games

PARIS – With heavy security set for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games during a time of terrorism, France has asked to use a Greek air defense system as well although talks are said to have been going on for months.

Although Greece is buying Rafale fighter jets from France and French warships and the two countries have a mutual defense pact, they are still in negotiations about France using the Greek defense systems, said Kathimerini.

It wasn’t said why France isn’t relying on its own air defenses nor what kind of threat is feared could come from the air although drones have been in use in war theaters and conflicts around the world.

The French have asked to use a French-made Crotale short-range surface-to-air missile system of the Greek Air Force, said Kathimerini. The talks began at a diplomatic level last November, apparently without any development so far, no explanation why.


The Greek system apparently is needed because France is going to send anti-aircraft systems to Ukraine to use against the ongoing Russian invasion and Greece reportedly said it won’t send similar defenses to Ukraine.

“If our allies ask for a specific period of time – in this case the Olympic Games – a specific assistance, which does not in any way affects the country’s defense capability, this will be done, but always after coordination and consultation between the two sides,” government spokesman Pavlos Marinakis told reporters.

“But we are always talking  – and I make it clear – about a limited specific time period.”

An official at the French embassy in Athens declined to comment, said POLITICO, nor was it explained what the hang-up was between allies.

This is the first time a report has emerged about France requesting air defense material for the Olympics. Until now, it has been reported that foreign police and military would be present during the Games, the news site added.

But while not  directly linked to Ukraine, the French request is seen as an indirect enticement to Athens to allow  part of its air defense in the general European effort to strengthen Ukraine, the report said, no further clarification.

The United States was  expected to further pressure Greece during a planned teleconference on Ukraine’s assistance during the Ukraine Defense Contact Group without explaining how Greece could provide systems to both France and Ukraine.

Greece’s air defenses include Russian S-300 missile systems that can’t be loaned or given to Ukraine without permission from Russia – the invaders – and Greece, while initially giving Ukraine support, has backed off in some areas.

The Crotale air-defense system was integrated into the Greek air force in 2003. It has a firing range of 11-20 kilometers (6.8-12.4 miles) and a maximum engagement altitude of 6 kilometers (9.94 miles.)

The Financial Times earlier said European Union leaders during a summit in Brussels personally urged Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and his Spanish counterpart Pedro Sánchez to supply air defense systems to Ukraine.

“We have already provided tangible assistance to Ukraine and its people,” Marinakis told a press briefing. “However, it must be emphasized that no action will be taken … that could even remotely endanger our nation’s deterrent capabilities or air defense.”

He added: “We have consistently refuted such claims in the past, and I reiterate our stance emphatically today,” although Greece and the US have a military cooperation agreement and he could be squeezed by the Americans.


For the first time, Greek voters in the homeland and the Diaspora will be able to participate in elections for the European Parliament for the first time on June 9.

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